NYC Council, State Education Department; Panel For Education Policy (PEP)
United States of America

The consequences of school violence that subvert the academic purposes of schooling include school avoidance, diminished ability to focus on academic pursuits, internalizing psychological problems such as depression and social anxiety, fearfulness among teachers and other school personnel, increased aggression and weapon carrying in the guise of self-defense, and the acceptance of violence as a reasonable form of conflict resolution (Elliott, Hamburg, &Williams, 1998; Hawker & Boulton, 2000).

Nevertheless, administrators and teachers devote the bulk of their time overseeing efforts designed to raise test scores, meeting an increasing array of mandates and regulations, and balancing their budgets (Ableser, 2003; G. D. Gottfredson et al., 2000).

Consequently, a vast number of school administrators are adopting inadequate “quick-fix” solutions to stem violence in their schools: suspension or expelling of large numbers of disruptive students, electronic security measures, and/or a single circumscribed psychosocial program (U.S. Department of Education [USDE], 2000).


Interpersonal violence or direct violence is defined as “behavior by persons against persons that intentionally threatens, attempts, or actually inflicts physical harm” (Reiss & Roth, 1993, p. 35).

Less serious forms of violence are generally classified as aggressive behavior, which include targeted verbal, physical, or gestural behavior that is intended to cause minor physical harm, psychological distress, intimidation, or to induce fear (Loeber & Stouthamer-Loeber, 1998).

Aggression can also be manifested through indirect forms of hostility such as spreading nasty rumors and social ostracizing (Crick & Bigbee, 1998). Generally, less serious forms of violence invariably precede more serious forms of violence. This dynamic is manifested in event sequences (e.g., inadvertent bumps or verbal slights can escalate into more serious forms of violence) as well as ontogenetically from childhood to adolescence (the pushes and shoves of elementary school children turn into vicious fights during adolescence).

A central goal of U.S. social welfare policy is to ensure that all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential as productive adults. Yet it is increasingly clear that where children live plays a central role in determining their life chances. Children growing up in high-poverty neighborhoods, with extreme levels of racial and economic segregation and inadequate public services—police, schools, sanitation, grocery stores—are at risk for a range of negative outcomes, including poor physical and mental health, cognitive delays, risky sexual behavior, and delinquency (Leventhal and Brooks-Gunn 2000; Leventhal, Dupéré and Brooks-Gunn 2009; Sampson, Morenoff, and Gannon-Rowley 2002; Sampson et al. 2007).

The consequences for these children’s life chances—and for society—are severe: they are more likely than those who grow up in less distressed communities to drop out of high school, get involved in gangs, become teen parents, and less likely to be employed when they reach adulthood (Johnson 2009).

Despite the importance of place, there has been comparatively little research on the ways that the neighborhoods where children live affect their transitions to adulthood or on the characteristics other than poverty that might influence their development. Even fewer programs or policies have tried to address the community mechanisms that might be causing such bad outcomes. Rather, the majority of research and policy attention concentrates on the individual child, the child’s family, and school settings, touching on many points along the path to adulthood, beginning with pregnancy planning, and continuing through pre- and postnatal care, early childhood development, schooling, and the myriad challenges confronting adolescents as they transition into adulthood.

As a result, policies aimed at helping disadvantaged children and youth tend to focus on individual families and children and on school-based reforms. Even the highly regarded Harlem Children’s Zone, which does aim to address multiple dimensions of the broader community, has as its core a state-of-the-art charter school program (Tough 2008). The Urban Institute’s Program on Neighborhoods and Youth Development is dedicated to filling this gap in research and policy knowledge, focusing on understanding the relationships between neighborhood-level factors and the well-being and development of children and youth and identifying and evaluating place-based, community-wide strategies to help children grow up to reach their full potential as adults (Page 2; The Urban Institute’s Program on Neighborhoods and Youth Development: Understanding How Place Matters for Kids; Susan J. Popkin, Director; Gregory Acs; Robin Smith).

What Can Be Done On A Greater Scale:

During the past 10 years, a large and growing body of evaluation research has documented and described a wide range of effective violence and school violence prevention programs, and a growing number of federal agencies, including the Department of Education, have restricted funding to promising or evidence-based programs.

In some elementary/middle schools not many within the NYC Board of Education there are Substance Abuse Prevention Intervention Specialist (SAPIS) and in some Secondary/High Schools there is the SPARK program. Both programs provide age appropriate, services for student and families with prevention and interventsion services to reduce risk factors and increase protective factors. The services are not limited to: Individual, groups, family and crisis counseling; classroom presentation on various topics, social skills groups and/or when necessary, referrals for professional services.

We, the undersigned, want the NYC Mayor & NYC City Council along with the NYC Board Of Education, Penel For Education Policy & Chancellor of NYC Schools to:

1. Increase funding and staff for in school youth, prevention & intervention services at all levels (one expert per school) with a promise or assurance to utilize the staff and funds for the reasons set in this petition (A Promise To Our Future Leaders.)

2. Incorporate professional development for all school, administrative staff to understand the dynamics of risk factors and preventive factors for students and families

3. Create a Chancellor’s Regulation which incorporates policy, strategies curriculum and compliance with research based prevention/intervention programs that focus on gang resistance, violence prevention, drug prevention, conflict resolution and other services to be offered in school towards increasing youth, family protective factors and decreasing risk factors

4. Offer professional development, training and workshops to parents to increase awareness of student development and needs at every stage of their development including the influence of peer pressure, sharing feelings, grief and bereavement etc.

5. Increase funding to after school programs with a
focus on efficacy, values and sportsmanship towards the development of life long positive relationship which foster support and trust of adults amongst adolescents and their peers

6. Place a trained SAPIS and SPARK counselor in every Elementary, Middle and High School in the NYC Department of Education to increase prevention and intervention services and protective factors

7. Increase student assemblies with research based learning activities and forums to increase student and family awareness of support services available to families which are struggling and need services offered by NYC

8. Open the in NYC and at the State level to increase conversation, discussions to sustain programs providing the kinds of services requested in this petition towards developing research based effective strategies and policies to reduce violence in neighborhoods, communities and homes around schools.

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The Place Intervention Prevention Awareness Programs Back In NYC Public Schools Now! petition to NYC Council, State Education Department; Panel For Education Policy (PEP) was written by Larry Davis and is in the category Youth at GoPetition.